By Dave Hart
MUSKEGON – Fielding has been a major issue early in the season for the Muskegon Clippers, and it cost them on Sunday night.
The Clippers committed five errors, leading to an 11-5 loss to the Lake Erie Monarchs at Marsh Field.
The loss was the third in a row for the Clippers, who are now 2-4 on the season, good for fifth place in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League’s Northern Division.
The Clippers will continue their long stretch of games on Monday night on the road against the Irish Hills Leprechauns. The first pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. at Siena Heights University.
“It’s the nature of the beast,” said Clippers Manager Walt Gawkowski, about the possibility of fatigue setting in after six games in six days and contributing to sloppy play. “We are playing eight games in a row, but you’ve got to fight through it. Every team in the league is doing the same thing.
“We have not defended well and that’s a concern to me. But I like this team a lot and we will be better.”
The Clippers opened the scoring in the first inning on an RBI single by Cameron Bair that scored Ryan Blake-Jones.
The Monarchs responded in the third inning with four runs on two hits and one Muskegon error to take a 4-1 lead. They added two more runs in the fifth.
The Clippers battled back in the bottom of fifth inning with four runs to cut its deficit to 6-5. The runs scored on an RBI single by Peter Zimmermann, an RBI double from Bair, a one-run single by Conner Henderson, and a double play.
The Monarchs added two runs in the sixth inning on two hits and one Muskegon error to take an 8-5 lead.
Muskegon had a chance to put a dent in that deficit in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs, but ended the frame with a lazy pop out to the second baseman.
Lake Erie tacked on three more runs in the ninth inning.
Muskegon was led offensively by Zimmermann with three hits and Bair with two doubles and two RBIs.
Austin Batka suffered the loss for the Clippers, allowing six runs (three earned) on four hits in five innings while striking out two.